Cole just asked me to help him complete an assignment for his online health class. I enrolled him in July for this high school course to help him "get his feet wet" in the waters of public education. This final assignment was to assess his growth in flexibility. Our once hyper-flexible son who tumbled and pretzled... he's been replaced by a 6'1/2" (it's a big-time foul to leave out that 1/2" right now) giant who is still getting used to his long limbs and lanky self. He seems to have left his flexibility with his pre-pubescent self.
Cole assumed the starting position on the floor, prepping for the stretch. I was timer and the lady with the tape measure. He attempted to bend at the waist while seated on the floor...stretching his fingers with desperation. Every 1/16 of an inch is precious length for these assessments.
Attempt 1: "One one-thousand. Two one-thousand. Three one-thousand," I count and measure.
"What!" he exclaimed. Obviously surprised... Not the good kind.
Attempt 2: "One one-thousand. Two one-thousand. Three one-thousand," I count and measure.
Again frustrated by his challenge to bend, he provides some free drama and states something's wrong with the tape measure.
"Really!" I exclaim. Something's wrong with the tape measure?!? The metal tape measure which never changes, stiff as a board.
Attempt 3: Before I even begin counting he exclaims, "Stop with the 'thousands'... You're counting too slowly." Defensively, I bach at him. I solicit Dennis to pull out his phone and time Cole for three seconds.
"Three seconds? Really?" Dennis asks.
Determined to prove to Cole I'm not purposely torturing him by slowing my count, I say, "Yes! We need you to time him for three seconds."
Attempt 3: Grunting, Cole plunges into his stretch, eking out every 1/16 of an inch. Now the timer on the iPhone must be wrong or Dennis somehow stretched out those three seconds.
I'm exhausted by the rebuttals and drama already. And we have to repeat it all on the other leg.
And as much as I adore this guy, I am so relieved to have retired from homeschooling this past May. Equal to my relief is his excitement that he's going to public high school. He loves the sea of possible friendships ahead of him each day.
People ask me frequently if it'll be hard to not homeschool, if it's bittersweet, if it feels like a loss to me. Hmm.... NO. NOTTA. It's pure sweet. I tell them when you have five kids, adopted late in life, and have homeschooled for 13 years, it's easy to embrace this new season like Christmas. Quite honestly, nobody needs this momma to be educating them. That just wouldn't be life-giving for anyone at this point. I'm tired. I'm adrenal fatigued. It's time to rest. It's time to just be my kids' mom. And I'm affirmed that the Father's call on my life to home educate has been lifted because there ain't enough grace to even cover the thought of it. I even wonder how we did it all those years.
And then I remember. Remember when God placed a burden on my heart so heavy that if I were to do anything but homeschool, I'd be in the fellowship of Jonah. The Bible guy who ran as far away from the city God told him to go to and ended up in the belly of a whale. I got Jonah's angst. I'd said, "I'd homeschool if God called me to do it. But only if." And I didn't really think he would do such an uncomfortable thing to me. And then He did. And whale belly's are smelly. So I surrendered. And through a seasoned homeschooler, God spoke into me two weeks into my journey, "My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in your weakness."
"You have to believe that at the end of every day, God covers you with his blanket of grace and fills in every crack and crevice you've left behind," she said.
And I didn't know at the time how homeschooling would teach me to desperately trust and believe in this truth. There was so much good. There was so much challenge. And oh, how there was weakness.
*fearing I'd make them stupid.
*snuggling on the couch with kids on every side, reading books to them.
*flipping through phonics flashcards, learning phonics rules for the first time.
*painfully and endlessly drilling math fact cards, wishing I could somehow imprint the answers into their memory banks so the monotonous drilling could end.
*teaching them math lesson after math lesson... every day those stinkin' Saxon math lessons (argh).
*listening to them decode words at a snail's pace, feeling time stood still...to them ripping through books with ease.
*history books full of naked people, which brought hysterical laughter to six year-old munchkins.
*the angst of needing to educate Madison and Keegan while my toddler begged for attention...and feeling like I fell so far short of caring for his needs...or anyone's needs.
*falling into sleep oblivion at noon while reading to the kids...awaking to them hitting me (gently of course) while yelling repeatedly, "Mom... mom.... mom... we're not done."
*the first time I "lost my lid" and screamed at the top of my lungs at my kids (broke that vow to be the "good mom"); they wept and I laughed because we survived the ultimate darkness.
*desperately making us all memorize 1 Corinthians 13 and begging our God to flesh it out in us in even some small way, then turning around and all breaking the Law of Love within minutes.
I remember living with Madison, Keegan, and Cole day-in and day-out; loving, playing, sinning, repenting, seeking forgiveness, forgiving. Learning to live the gospel.
Choosing to believe the unbelievable: that Jesus' grace would be sufficient to fill in every gaping crack and crevice left in my wake each day of our homeschooling journey.
Then I Retired
This past June, Dennis, myself and our three homeschool guinea pigs: Madison, Keegan (and his fabulous girlfriend Joyce) and Cole sat around a table at Pei Wei enjoying dinner. I thought we were celebrating Cole's eighth grade graduation. As the food arrived and we were passing around sushi, they revealed we were also celebrating my retirement. For the next hour we shared stories, relived history, and howled. Gut-buckling laughter radiated from our table as we recounted all the crazy. And after all the crazy, there was nothing but joy.
They're all growing up: 19, 17, 14 years now. As I looked into their eyes and we laughed hysterically, God glowed big. Really big. Out of all our brokenness, His grace really was sufficient. It covered us. It redeemed the seemingly irredeemable. His strength made mysteriously perfect in my vast valleys of weakness. Forging through our brokenness a bond only heaven could weave.
"They'll see this and understand. They'll ponder together and come to know that it is the power of the Eternal One that produced this. They will know that the Holy One of Israel created it." Isaiah 41:20.